Should we make videos of our lectures available?

Thanks to Peter Rowlett for providing me with the following interesting link:

College 2.0: More Professors Could Share Lectures Online. But Should They?

This is an interesting discussion!

Of course, I have been putting podcasts/screencasts/videos of my classes online. This is very popular with my students. However, it does not appear to lead to significantly better overall student performances. I think that some students actually do worse than if the videos had not been made available. This is because they can allow themselves to fall behind, “secure” in the knowledge that they can catch up whenever they want. Unfortunately, this tends not to work out very well!

The article above (and comments on it) do give suggestions for addressing this sort of problem (e.g. student attendance at classes), and I will try some of these ideas out.

7 thoughts on “Should we make videos of our lectures available?

  1. Jonathan June 24, 2010 / 10:22 am

    Hello Dr. Feinstein,
    I am a freshman student in Mexico, specifically in the Tecnologico de Monterrey. I have always loved mathematics and their accuracy in solving physics, chemistry, engineering and other sciences problems. For me, they are the key to allow us to understand the universe and every problem that the human mind can think of. That is the reason why I enjoyed to know that teachers from other universities were uploading videos of their classes. I was finally able to learn mathematics without going to Wikipedia (not a reliable source) and trying to understand the simbology that I had not been taught how to interpret. Due to this fact, I believe that uploading videos is not wrong at all! Because there are people that can not afford travelling to other continent and staying there during 4 years to study the subject that they are really interested about (I am going to study mechanical engineering because the universities that offer mathematics here are not as updated as the ones in Europe or as free from criminals). Therefore, I really support your choice of sharing your teachings in iTunesU and appreciate the effort it takes to do it. Congratulations! Sincerely, Jonathan


  2. Mike Sharpe July 23, 2010 / 2:15 pm

    I have just accessed Dr Feinstein’s excellent ‘Beyond Infinity’ (Hilbert’s Hotel) presentation via Intute from the website. I’d say that making this available online is a great thing because it widens his audience and preserves an elegant expression of key ideas. With proper acknowledgement I might even use this as a resource to support my own teaching. The comprehension of audiovisual material is in my opinion greater than that of text or text and diagrams, and the material can be accessed repeatedly for disambiguation, discussion and reinforcement. Thanks.


    • Joel September 17, 2010 / 8:48 am

      As you can see from the comments at the end of that article, the issues raised are often the same!
      Students are very enthusiastic about these resources. But which students actually perform better than they would have done without the recordings?
      It appears to be very hard to measure the effect scientifically.
      It is very easy to list the many benefits that the recordings can provide … if the students use them. But those students who use the availability of the recordings to fall behind (in the belief that they can catch up whenever they want) may well end up doing very badly. One way that people have addressed this problem is to have regular class tests (or equivalent), so that students have to keep on top of the material. This looks to be a good approach, and should encourage students to take advantage of the resources available.


  3. Joel September 21, 2010 / 9:09 pm

    Thanks to Peter Rowlett for pointing out some more work that has been done on this by McKinney et al., “iTunes University and the classroom: Can podcasts replace Professors?”, Computers & Education 52 (2009) 617–623.
    See for a short summary.
    A bigger sample size would help, as would the inclusion of a sample of students who both attended the lecture AND viewed the screencast.
    But it does look as though students who watch the screencast and take notes do very well.


  4. Brian Bennett (@bennettscience) September 19, 2011 / 2:06 pm

    This is a growing area of interest in the US among primary and secondary teachers. I began podcasting as homework review and challenge problem walkthroughs. Then, I met Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, both of whom were podcasting as their regular instruction. They class time they found from moving the “lecture” component allowed them to focus on lab work and collaborative group activities to increase learner engagement.
    I want to stress that NOTHING can replace face-to-face time with learners in our schools. If you use podcasting in your class, it should be a SUPPLEMENT to the time you spend talking and challenging your learners.
    Also, the time you “find” in class should be used to engage and direct learners down the correct paths in the course. Eventually, you will be able to do away with podcasts (and in turn, lecture almost entirely) and use guided inquiry (POGIL), labs, discussions, articles, and many other tools to engage and interact.
    Podcasting is a great supplement and a great stepping-stone to more engaging and interactive classes. Do not simply shift your lecture to the web and then sit back…be dynamic and find ways to continually challenge and push your learners.


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